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Delhi HC judge to inspect Central, Southern Ridge to assess extent of afforestation, tree-felling

The high court has been dealing with several issues pertaining to the preservation of the Ridge and instances of unauthorised tree felling in the national capital.
Last Updated : 02 July 2024, 10:25 IST

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New Delhi: The Delhi High Court has said it will carry out a "physical examination" of the Central Ridge and Southern Ridge in order to assess the extent of afforestation and cutting of trees in the area.

Justice Jasmeet Singh, while dealing with a plea concerning the well-being of trees in the national capital, took into account the "conflicting claims" with respect to plantation and cutting of trees by the Delhi government authorities and the amicus curiae in the matter and asked the parties to assemble in his chamber on the morning of July 17 to then "jointly proceed for physical inspection".

The Ridge, an extension of the Aravalli hill range in Delhi, is a rocky, hilly and forested area. It has been divided into four zones — south, south-central, central and north — for administrative reasons. These four zones make up a total area of around 7,784 hectares.

"In view of conflicting claims by Principal Secretary, Department of Environment and Forest, GNCTD, who is present in court, and Mr Gautam Narayan, learned Amicus Curiae regarding afforestation and cutting of trees in Central Ridge and Southern Ridge, I am of the view that a physical examination with respect to the extent of afforestation and cutting of trees in Central Ridge and Southern Ridge should be done by this Court," said the judge in his order passed on July 1.

"It is directed that on 17.07.2024 Mr Narayan, learned Amicus Curiae, Mr Aditya Prasad, learned counsel for the petitioner, Mr Anuj Aggarwal, learned ASC GNCTD, Mr Singh, Principal Secretary, Department of Environment and Forest, GNCTD, Addl. Pr. Chief Conservator of Forests, Ms Tripathi, learned counsel for DDA, Mr Johri, shall meet at Delhi High Court at 11 am at my Chamber and thereafter shall jointly proceed for physical inspection," ordered the court.

The high court has been dealing with several issues pertaining to the preservation of the Ridge and instances of unauthorised tree felling in the national capital.

In March, the court had expressed its displeasure over felling down several trees in the Southern Ridge for an approach road and said if the authorities wanted to convert the capital into the Thar desert, they should state so on affidavit.

Terming it “painful”, Justice Singh had said if the authorities were choosing to not comply with judicial orders on conservation of the Ridge, he could “only feel sorry for the people”.

Last year, the court had also restrained the forest department from holding a 'Walk with Wildlife' event inside the Asola Bhatti Wildlife Sanctuary in the Southern Ridge.

Calling the Central Ridge "our green heritage", the high court recently said it cannot be allowed to be "degenerated" when the city is already grappling with rising pollution levels that have attained "dangerous proportions".

The court had taken a "serious view" of the Central Ridge being used as a garbage dumping ground and felling of trees and removal of the shrubs there and sought an explanation from the forest department.

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Published 02 July 2024, 10:25 IST

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